Nigeria’s airline and hotel booking portal firm, Wakanow, on Monday, launched a Kenyan subsidiary that will serve as its launching pad to the larger East African market.
Wakanow Group chief executive Obinna Ekezie said their new offices in Nairobi would help grow West-East Africa travel tourism, riding on a homegrown e-travel platform.
“We have partnered with the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) for many years and our presence will further provide a seamless portal for Africans in the diaspora as well as global travellers,” he said.
Corporates using the platform will gain a direct link to Wakanow’s other subsidiaries. The portal will give customers booking and payments solutions but will focus on traffic coming to Africa.
Wakanow is co-owned by American and Nigeria’s investors. It has served as Kenya’s online ambassador to the Middle East and West Africa where it has been running marketing campaigns with KTB.
The company has 40 travel offices in Nigeria and Ghana as well as runs a Dubai office and recently opened its UK office to tap into the high African diaspora. There is a need to grow intra-African traffic as most travellers on the continent come from Western Europe or North America. However, governments across the region have been trying to encourage Africans to cross borders in their leisure travel.
Kenya, in particular, has been trying to woo more tourists from West Africa to visit its beaches and savannahs. KTB projects that intense marketing campaigns will grow West African tourists 30 percent.
Apart from marketing, improving flight connectivity and trying to ease immigration regulations, countries in the region are realising that technology could be a real part of the solution.
Sites like Wakanow and Jumia Travel allow travellers to cut out the middleman, the agent and shop directly from among thousands of hotels and hundreds of destinations.
Through quick online research customers can lock down most of their travel logistics, from hotel rooms; to air flights; and even excursion tickets.